recipes · romantic suspense

Release of Palace of Deception: romance, suspense, intrigue, and a Mediterranean recipe.

Today is release day for my romantic suspense novella, Palace of Deception. Hooray! If you haven’t already seen it, here is the lovely cover by Charlotte Volnek:

romantic suspense, helena fairfax

I hope you love it as much as I do. I wrote a little about why the cover is fits the story so well in a previous post, along with an extract which you can read here.

Since it’s release day today, we should celebrate, and I spent a while wondering what would be the best way to do that, and then I hit on the perfect idea. Palace of Deception is set near the Mediterranean, so what better way to celebrate its release than with a delicious Mediterranean meal? So I’ve put together a recipe or two, and whilst I’m making it, let’s have a couple of glasses of Prosecco. Here’s to release day. Cheers! (Santé! Saluti!)

helena fairfax, palace of deception, recipe
Cheers! (Prosecco glasses courtesy of Pixabay)

Léon, the hero of Palace of Deception, tells Lizzie, the heroine, that after their job is finished he’s looking forward to travelling to his house on the Italian coast, where he’ll do nothing but swim in the Mediterranean in the day, and in the evening eat steak and drink red wine. So, I thought for our first Mediterranean course I’d give a recipe for the perfect steak.

Cooking the prefect steak – simple, yet tricky

First, choose your steak. Preferably not a tough bit of old braising steak from the supermarket. (Yes, you can cook those and make them taste OK, but that’s a different recipe.) Try and get a good thick steak from your butcher’s – something like a rib-eye.  Yes, it’s more expensive, but today is release day of Palace of Deception, and we’re celebrating.

The steak should be at room temperature when you cook it, so bring it out of the fridge at least a couple of hours before it’s time to eat. Open a bottle of red wine and let that breathe at the same time. When you’re ready to start cooking, pat the steak tenderly dry with some kitchen roll and then season it liberally with salt and a little bit of pepper on both sides. Leave it for ten minutes.

In the meantime, get a good couple of ounces of butter and mix that in with a little crushed garlic. Heat your frying-pan on a medium high heat (but don’t put any oil or butter in it). Drop in the steak and brown on both sides – about a minute and a half per side – pressing it down with the spatula. When the steak is brown and crusty on the outside, add the butter and garlic mixture. Continue to fry for another five or six minutes, turning after each minute.

Take the steak out of the pan and leave somewhere warm to rest for a few minutes while you finish drinking your Prosecco.

And there you have it – as simple as that! What you eat with your steak is up to you. Personally I quite like chips (French Fries) and a nice salad. Now you can drain your Prosecco and pour some of that red wine you’ve already opened. Cheers again!

And for dessert…

My hero Léon lives in Italy, so what better for dessert than some home-made pistachio ice-cream? You can make this the day before, so that makes your meal even more simple.

helena fairfax, palace of deception, pistachio ice-cream
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Here’s what you’ll need: 8 oz (225gsm) unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts (don’t forget to weigh them AFTER shelling); 1 pint (570ml) double cream; 1 pint (570ml) single cream; 4 oz (110 gsm) golden caster (or superfine) sugar; 8 large egg yolks; 1 and a half tablespoons custard powder; some plastic ice-cream boxes you’ve saved

  • Whip the double cream until it’s thickened quite a lot (but not too thick) and put it in the fridge.
  • Take half the pistachio nuts and put them in a food processor with the sugar. Process until they’re very fine.
  • Roughly chop the remaining nuts.
  • Put the single cream into a medium-sized saucepan. Add  the processed pistachios and sugar and heat to just below boiling point.
  • In the meantime, beat together the egg yolks and custard powder in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Pour the hot cream on to the egg yolk mixture, whisking everything together all the time.
  • Put the eggs, single cream, etc, back in the pan and keep whisking over a medium heat until it has thickened and just come up to boiling point again. (Don’t worry if it curdles. The custard powder will cure curdling once you take it off the heat.)
  • Pour the hot mixture into a bowl. Put this bowl into a larger bowl of really cold water, stirring it occasionally until the mixture has gone cold.
  • Take the bowl out of the water. Fold the double cream into the mixture.
  • Fold in the remaining nuts.
  • Divide the mixture into your plastic boxes and place them in the freezer.
  • Keep going to the freezer every quarter of an hour to stir the mixture. This will stop water crystals forming. Do this for an hour or two. Leave to freeze overnight.

On the day you want to eat the ice-cream, get it out of the freezer at least twenty minutes before you want to eat it, otherwise – because it’s home-made – it will be solid as a rock. Pistachio ice-cream goes perfectly with tiny biscuits (cookies) or wafers. And another glass of red wine :)

* * *

I hope you like my Mediterranean recipes! Palace of Deception is available on Amazon at the moment (and from other online reatilers soon). Here are some of the Amazon links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon IN, Amazon AU.

I hope you will download and enjoy. It’s a fun read, full of romance, mystery and intrigue – and perfect for a summer read!

Do you have a special recipe for steak? Have you ever made your own ice-cream? If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!

11 thoughts on “Release of Palace of Deception: romance, suspense, intrigue, and a Mediterranean recipe.

  1. Congratulations, Helena! I hadn’t realised it was out today. Looking forward to reading it as I love romantic suspense. What a great recipe for steak – I hardly ever cook it this way as I wasn’t sure how. Maybe give this a go. I’ve never made ice cream either and, much as I like the sound of this, I’ll probably never get around to making it – I don’t eat ice cream very often. All the best with Palace of Deception.


    1. Hi Rosemary, I haven’t done much promo for this novella, as I’ve been ill for a couple of weeks. It’s had to sink or swim!
      I don’t often eat ice-cream, either, but home-made is really nice. Definitely worth the effort for a special occasion. Thanks very much for dropping in!


  2. Congrats, Helena. So happy for you. Tipping a glass of cyber champagne to you. Aren’t we lucky to work with Charlie Volnek? Love her covers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doin’ a happy dance right here with you! Congrats on the new book release. Your book is the first one I ever pre-ordered. I really like that option since so many times I make a note of a new release, then lose the note or forget to check back and order it. My mom used to fry steak in a skillet, then after it was done, she would warm up a can of pork and beans in the drippings in the pan. Soooo good. Now we usually grill them outdoors on our grill (barbecue). I’ve never tried pistachio ice cream. Yes, we’ve made lots of ice cream. Living in Michigan there’s a LOT of snow to pack the can in. LOL…All the best. Thrilled for you.


    1. Hi JQ, I love the pre-order option, too! There are some authors whose new releases I really look forward to. It’s a pleasant surprise to switch on my Kindle and find their books have downloaded :)
      Interesting you grill on a barbecue. I had thought of giving a recipe for barbecued steak. The trouble is, here in northern England you can never rely on the weather. You’ll no sooner have the barbie fired up, when it starts pouring down. Better cook inside, is my motto! You can always take your plate outside if the sun comes out.
      Thanks so much for pre-ordering Palace of Deception. I really hope you enjoy it!


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